Features - Update to Researching Intellectual Property Law in an International Context

Stefanie Weigmann is a Senior Reference Librarian and Instructor at the Boston University School of Law.  Ms. Weigmann teaches a course in international legal research at BUSL. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Michigan School of Information.  In the four years between her law degree and her library degree, she clerked for a federal district court judge in Puerto Rico and worked for the New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton as an attorney.

Editor's note:  This article is an update to Researching Intellectual Property Law in an International Context, (published March 1, 2000).  There are numerous additions, changes for some Web site addresses, as well as some deletions.  These additions and changes are indicated by        (yellow background color) for easy identification.  

Additional edits were made to update links on February 8, 2001. These additions and changes are indicated by        (yellow background color) for easy identification.

Introduction

When we speak of the law of intellectual property, we are generally speaking of the law of a particular jurisdiction like the United States, France or China. A practitioner is, in the common case, only concerned with the law of his or her jurisdiction. However, intellectual property is interesting because of the number of multilateral conventions that have been concluded in an effort to harmonize national laws. And increasingly these conventions have had direct effects on national law. With the increases in trade, and now, with the Internet, it has become important to understand not only the law of one’s own jurisdiction, but also the law of other jurisdictions and the international conventions that regulate intellectual property by means of bilateral and multilateral commitments. This article will examine (1) the current international intellectual property regimes and (2) the accessibility of foreign laws and bilateral treaties, both in English and the vernacular.

Intellectual Property

First, we should probably define what we mean by intellectual property. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “intellectual property” as “(a) category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect. The category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.” The terminology regarding intellectual property has shifted over time, with the term "industrial property" giving way to the various terms that exist today. You will notice that many of the older agreements, documents and organizations use the term "industrial property". This area of law has also expanded to encompass licensing, biotechnology and other legal or non-legal subject areas that are related to conceptions of property that are abstract in nature. In this article we will only concern ourselves with trademark, copyright and patent rights, however, there are many other areas that fall within the rubric of intellectual property.

International Regimes and Their Documentation

At the conclusion of the last round of trade negotiations under General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT"), the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property ("TRIPS") (http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips.pdf) was signed by the participating nations.

"With the ongoing integration of the world economy, and with production becoming more "technology intensive", there was a concern that the absence of a multilateral framework (including rules) for addressing intellectual property issues could create problems, including tensions in international commercial relations. The TRIPS agreement will be implemented within transition periods generally of one year (developed countries), five years (developing countries and transition economies) or eleven years (least-developed countries). A Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights will be created to monitor the operation of the Agreement and governments' compliance with it." (http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/nov.wpf) at p. 51.

This agreement defines standards of intellectual property rights and enforcement mechanisms for individual countries to follow, and incorporates those into the existing Dispute Settlement mechanism of the WTO. It defines these standards by reference to existing agreements concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/intel4_e.htm). In some cases nations are required to harmonize their intellectual property laws with these existing agreements. For books about the TRIPS agreement see:

  • Intellectual property and international trade: the TRIPS agreement (Carlos M. Correa, Abdulqawi A. Yusuf eds., London; Boston: Kluwer Law International, c1998)
  • The TRIPS agreement: drafting history and analysis, by Daniel Gervais (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1998).

With TRIPS the internationalization of intellectual property law has reached a new level. It is important that the researcher not only be familiar with the multilateral agreements in place, but also be able to ascertain whether a country has indeed complied with the requirements of TRIPS. As noted above, the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is charged with ensuring compliance. The documents of that entity may be found at the Document Dissemination Facility of the WTO. You may search this Facility by document symbol with the most important symbols being:

IP/C/W Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Working Documents
IP/C/M Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Minutes
IP/D/ Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - Disputes (Requests for Consultations)
IP/N/ Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - Notifications
IP/N/#/Member Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - Notifications by Member
IP/Q/Member Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - Questions and Replies by Member to Notifications submitted

The WTO and the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") are working together. There is an Agreement between the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/wtowip_e.htm) where WIPO agrees to facilitate the WTO implement TRIPs.

WIPO was established in 1967 and charged with promoting the protection of intellectual property throughout the world and ensuring administrative cooperation among the various agreements dealing with intellectual property (Art. 3). WIPO is part of the UN system, and has been the sponsoring entity for many of the important conventions in this area. The texts of treaties administered by WIPO can be found at the WIPO website (http://www.wipo.int/treaties/index.html). This website also includes ratification information (http://www.wipo.int/treaties/index.html). WIPO is also involved in collecting the intellectual property laws of its member states (more on this below in the section on foreign law). WIPO publishes compilations of laws and treaties:

  • Industrial property laws and treaties. (Geneva: WIPO, c1978 updated) looseleaf
  • Intellectual property laws and treaties. (Geneva: WIPO, 1998-current) looseleaf

These two collections of laws and treaties are available from WIPO in CD-ROM format as IP-LEX. There are other sources for the texts of intellectual property conventions:

  • The Spinoza Project
  • International treaties on intellectual property 2nd ed.(Marshall A. Leaffer, ed.,Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, c1997)
  • Selected Statutes and International Agreements on Unfair Competition, Trademark, Copyright and Patent (P. Goldstein et.al. eds., Westbury N.Y.: Foundation Press, 1997)
  • Selected Intellectual Property and Unfair Competition Statutes, Regulations and Treaties (R. Schechter ed., St. Paul Minn.: West Pub. Co., 1999)
  • Lex Mercatoria on Intellectual Property
  • Lexis (COPYRT;TREATY) or (PATENT;TREATY) or (TRDMRK;TREATY)
  • Design Laws and Treaties of the World (Bureau of National Affairs 1960-current)

The documents produced by WIPO in recent years are available at the WIPO website (http://www.wipo.int/news/en/). For earlier documents you can contact the Geneva Secretariat (http://www.wipo.org/eng/newindex/contact.htm) and they can be quite responsive. WIPO also publishes a monthly bulletin called Industrial Property and Copyright (Geneva: WIPO, 1995-current), which continues Copyright (Geneva: WIPO, 1965-1994). This publication updates the WIPO sets that include the texts of national intellectual property laws and treaties. The WIPO Magazine (Geneva: WIPO, 1998-current) (http://www.wipo.int/publications/general/121/2000/index.html) is available on the WIPO website. For WIPO publications, there is now an electronic bookshop to order publications (http://www.wipo.int/ebookshop). The WIPO library system is also online via UNCAPS (http://uncaps.unsystem.org/) which is a shared cataloging system for the UN libraries. If you enter this you may select to search just the WIPO library catalog. If you are really at your wits end with regard to a WIPO document you can e-mail the Reference Desk at the WIPO library library.mail@wipo.int.

TRIPS has now made available the WTO Dispute Settlement Process for any disputes relating to TRIPS (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/dispu_e.htm). However, WIPO also has its own Arbitration and Mediation Center. This Center was established in 1994 and offers services for the private resolution of disputes involving intellectual property. Documents associated with this Center (http://www.arbiter.wipo.int/information/publications/index.html) are available from the website and include rules as well as other information.

There are other international organizations working in the area of intellectual property. UNESCO works with copyright, as well as with cultural property and the protection of the intellectual property of developing nations. UNESCO has sponsored an number of agreements in this area (http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/legal/convent.html). UNESCO has a very good database for searching its documents called UNESDOC (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/). UNESCO also publishes the Copyright Bulletin (Paris: UNESCO, 1967-current). There is also an online catalog of all UNESCO's publications (http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/publish/upocat-form.html).

Europe

The European Union (or Community or EC, as it is also know) has been active in passing legislation on intellectual property. The Directory of Community Legislation in Force, now available on the web, has a listing of all Community legislation on intellectual property (http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_1720.html) - with links to the full-text of some legislation. The administration of Community law is the responsibility of the Directorates General ("DG") of the Commission. The DG handling intellectual property is DG XV, the DG for the Internal Market (http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/index.htm). This website includes legislation and pending legislation relating to intellectual property. The intellectual property related legislation of the European Union is found in the CLEA database (http://clea.wipo.int/) under European Community. The Legal Advisory Office website (http://www.ispo.cec.be/legal/en/ipr/ipr.html) has news about current developments among EU countries with regard to intellectual property, as well as links to legal documents. Other documents relating to intellectual property include regulations (http://oami.eu.int/en/aspects/reg.htm) from the Trademark and Design Section of the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market, as well as decisions (http://oami.eu.int/en/aspects/decis.htm) from its Board of Appeals.

The European Communities publishes Industrial Property Rights (London: Kogan Page, 1997). Another good sources of EU laws is Sweet & Maxwell’s EC Intellectual Property Materials (A. Booy & A. Horton, eds. Andover: Sweet & Maxwell, 1994). WIPO also puts out European Intellectual Property Review (Oxford: WIPO, 1978-current) which is also on Westlaw (EIPR). There is also Enforcement of intellectual property in European and international law/ by Christopher Wadlow. (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1998) There are other sources for lists of European Union IP laws: the Spinoza Project (http://www.rechten.unimaas.nl/spinoza/iplib.htm). For a discussion of the European Patent Convention see the section of Patent Law below.

Several members of the the Federation of Independent States and their neighbors have established the Eurasian Patent Organization (http://www.eapo.org/eng/news/index.shtml) by becoming signatories to the Eurasian Patent Convention (http://www.eapo.org/english/documents/konvenci.shtm).  The Convention and accompanying regulations can also be found on the CLEA database (see the CLEA database, http://clea.wipo.int/).

NGOs, Institutes and Associations

There are other organizations that are interested in international intellectual property law. For example, the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law (http://www.intellecprop.mpg.de/). This organization publishes International Review of Industrial Property and Copyright Law (Weinheim, Germany: 1970-current). For ordering information see the website (http://www.intellecprop.mpg.de/Enhanced/English/Veroeffentlichungen/IIC.HTM). The Max Planck Institute also publishes ICC Studies on different topics within intellectual property. It also has a database (http://www.intellecprop.mpg.de/Enhanced/English/externeLinks/auslande.htm) of intellectual property related links organized by subject and country which is very useful. The Institute has also begun putting up on-line publications (http://www.intellecprop.mpg.de/Online-Publikationen/Online-Publications.HTM). The Institute Library (http://www.intellecprop.mpg.de/Enhanced/English/Bibliothek/BIBLIOE.htm), which no doubt has a large collection, can be searched on-line.

The International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (http://www.aippi.org/) is an NGO that works on policy issues relating to international intellectual property. The website provides access to the recent documents of various committees (http://www.aippi.org/committees.html) as well as reports (http://www.aippi.org/services.html).

The International Intellectual Property Alliance is an NGO composed of U.S. copyright based industries (http://www.iipa.com/). This organization produces reports on various countries for section 301 purposes (http://www.iipa.com/html/reports_by_country.html). These are useful because they describe the state of the legal protections of intellectual property in various countries.

There are some resources that are more practice related. The International Federation of Industrial Property Attorneys (http://www.ficpi.org/ficpi/aboutframe.html) has a newsletter it posts on its website (http://www.ficpi.org/ficpi/publframe.html), along with information about the organization. Hieros Gamos (http://www.hg.org/intell.html) provides information and news about the practice of intellectual property law internationally. The ABA has a section that is concerned with intellectual property, and the section is interested in international developments, in part because they are affecting national law so directly. The Section on Intellectual Property Law has little of substance at its website (http://www.abanet.org/intelprop) but it does have information about committees involved in international intellectual property matters. Lexis provides information from Section committee meetings (PATENT;PTCLAW).

Secondary Sources

There are a number of secondary source materials that are useful. Most of these are topic specific and so are discussed below in the sections on copyrights, patents or trademarks. However, there are general books on international intellectual property:

  • Intellectual property in the global marketplace 2nd ed. (M. Simensky et. al. eds., New York: J. Wiley, c1999)
  • The international intellectual property system : commentary and materials, by Frederick Abbott, Thomas Cottier & Francis Gurry. (The Hague; Boston: Kluwer Law International, c1999)
  • World intellectual property rights and remedies (D. Campbell, ed., Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, c1999-)
  • International intellectual property law (A. D'Amato and D.E. Long. eds., London; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1997).
  • Introduction to intellectual property : theory and practice (World Intellectual Property Organization. London; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1997).
  • The New role of intellectual property in commercial transactions : recent trends in the valuation, exploitation and protection of intellectual property (M. Simensky, L. G. Bryer eds., New York: John Wiley & Sons, c1994).
  • International Protection of Intellectual Property: Current Issues and Directions (New York: Prentice Hall Law & Business, 1990-current) annual
  • L. Melville, Forms and Agreements on Intellectual Property and International Licensing 3rd ed. (New York, N.Y.: C. Boardman Co., 1979-current)
  • Modern Intellectual Property 2d (MODIP) on Westlaw
  • Eckstrom's Licensing in Foreign and Domestic Operations (ECKLICN).

There are several periodicals and newsletters, both in print and online. In print, there is The journal of world intellectual property. (Geneva: Werner, c1998-current) and the World Intellectual Property Report (London: BNA International, 1987-current). BNA also publishes its Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law Daily on Lexis (COPYRT;BNAPTD) and Westlaw (BNA-PTD) and Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs) on Lexis (COPYRT;PTCJNL) and Westlaw (BNA-PTCJ). And BNA puts out World Licensing Law Report (London: BNA International, 1999-current). There is also IDEA (Washington, D.C. : Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Research Institute of the George Washington University, c1964-current).

Current awareness tools include:

  • IP Worldwide (New York, N.Y.: American Lawyer Media, 1996-current) which is also a databases on Lexis (COPYRT;IPWW) and has a website (http://www.ipww.com/) with some current articles available for free
  • Intellectual Property News (London, New York: Linklaters & Alliance, 1998-current)
  • Managing Intellectual Property (London: Euromoney Publications, 1990-current)
  • World Intellectual Property Directory (Washington, D.C.: Arrowhead World Regulatory Directories, 1997-current) semiannual.
  • Baker McKenzie has an IP Newsletter which can be found going to "Publications" on their website (http://www.bakerinfo.com/)
  • World Intellectual Property Private Law Agency (http://www.wipla.com/uksubscription.html)

Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks

There are resources specific to each of these major areas of intellectual property law. Many of the underlying agreements and concepts are discussed in the resources mentioned above, so do not rely solely on the discussion of the particular area in which you are interested.

Copyright

Copyright has two important international agreements the Universal Copyright Convention (http://www.unesco.org/culture/laws/copyright/html_eng/page1.htm and http://www.tufts.edu/departments/fletcher/multi/texts/UNTS13444.txt) and the Berne Convention (http://www.law.cornell.edu/treaties/berne/overview.html). The Berne Convention has recently been extended to protect works in digital form.

Primary source documents can be found in the general collections mentioned above, and in the following copyright specific collections:

  • Copyright and Neighboring Rights Laws & Treaties (Geneva: WIPO, 1987-current) looseleaf
  • Copyright Laws and Treaties of the World (Washington, D.C.: BNA/UNESCO, 1956-current) looseleaf
  • The compleat multilateral copyright and related agreements, conventions, covenants & treaties, 1998 (H. Chartrand, Saskatoon, SK: Compiler Press, 1998)
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) 1996 (Geneva: WIPO, 1998)

The following are some treatises that discuss copyright in an international context:

  • International Copyright and Neighbouring Rights S.M. Stewart (London: Butterworths, 1989)
  • W. Nordemann International Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law (Weinheim: Verlagsgesellschaft, 1990)
  • M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer Nimmer on Copyright (New York: M. Bender, 1978-current) this is also available on Lexis (COPYRT;NIMMER)
  • S. Ricketson The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works: 1886-1986 (London: Center for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary College; Kluwer, 1987)
  • M. Nimmer & P. Geller International Copyright Law and Practice (New York: M. Bender, 1988-current)
  • World copyright law / by J.A.L. Sterling. (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1999)
  • M. McDonald et. al., Design and Copyright Protection of Products: World Law & Practice (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1998) looseleaf
  • S. Cotter, Copyright Infringement (London; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1998)
  • K. Garnett, W.A. Copinger, Copinger and Skone James on Copyright: including international copyright 14th ed (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1998)

Periodicals that have discussions of international copyright issues include: Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA (New York, N.Y.: New York University Law Center, c1981-current), this journal is also on Westlaw (JCPS). There is also the Revue International du Droit d’Auteur (Geneva: WIPO, 1962-current). There are also a number of Practicing Law Institute publications (http://www.pli.edu/) which can be found at the PLI website by searching for "copyright."

Patent

The major agreements regarding patents are:

WIPO has documents related to the PCT available at its website (http://www.wipo.org/eng/newindex/pct.htm) including the PCT Gazette (http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/index.html), news, information about applications, and other information. The International Patent Classification system is new as of 1/1/2000 (http://classifications.wipo.int/fulltext/new_ipc/index.htm). WIPO publishes the Patent Information and Documentation Handbook (Geneva: WIPO, 1981-current) looseleaf and World Directory of Sources of Patent Information (Geneva: WIPO, 1993-current) looseleaf.

Another source of laws and treaties dealing with patents is World Patent Law and Practice: Patent Statutes, Regulations and Treaties (New York: M. Bender, 1974-current) looseleaf. WIPO also publishes its treaties: Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (Geneva: WIPO, 1997)

There are a few secondary sources on patents:

  • J.W. Baxter World Patent Law and Practice (New York: M. Bender, 1980-current) looseleaf
  • Jacobs & N. Morowitz Patents throughout the World ((Deerfield, Ill: CBC, 1989-curent) looseleaf
  • M. Meller International Patent Litigation: A Country-by-Country Analysis (Washington, D.C.: BNA, 1983-current) looseleaf
  • H. Wegner, Patent Harmonization (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1993)
  • C. Jones, Patent Cooperation Treaty Handbook (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1997-current) looseleaf

Other information available includes periodicals like the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society (Arlington, Va.: The Society, c1985-current) which is also on Westlaw (JPTOS). This publication continues the Journal of the Patent Office Society (Washington, D.C. : The Society, 1918-c1984). There is also World Patent Information (Oxford; New York: Pergamon Press, 1979-current). There are also a number of Practicing Law Institute publications (http://www.pli.edu/) which can be found at the PLI website by searching for "patent."

The other large international system is that associated with the European Patent Convention with its rules and guidelines (http://www.european-patent-office.org/legal/anc_reg/e/index.htm). The associated European Patent Office (http://www.european-patent-office.org/) provides the Official Journal (http://www.european-patent-office.org/epo/pubs/oj_index_e.htm) which is also published in paper Official Journal of the European Patent Office (Munich: European Patent Office). The EPO Board of Appeals decisions (http://www.european-patent-office.org/case_law/english/index.htm) also appear on the EPO website. These decisions are also published as European Patent Decisions 5th ed. (Chorleywood: Gaon Publishing, 1996). There is also European Patent Office Reports (Oxford: ESC, 1986-current) which is completed by a historical compilation, European Patent Office Reports, 1974-1985 (Oxford: ESC, 1989). The website also provides annual reports (http://www.european-patent-office.org/epo/an_rep/index.htm) and decisions of the Administrative Council (http://www.european-patent-office.org/epo/ca/index.htm). An EPO publication that does not appear to have a direct electronic equivalent is the European Patent Bulletin (Munich: European Patent Office).

There are a number of secondary source texts in this area as well:

  • Encyclopedia of U.K. and European Patent Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1977-current) looseleaf
  • Muir et. al., European Patent Law: Law and Procedure under the EPC and PCT (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • G. Paterson European Patent System (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1992)
  • Chartered Institute of Patent Agents, European Patents Handbook 2d (London: Longmans; New York: M. Bender, 1988-current)

Patent searching is not really within the scope of this article; however, there is a good pointer to sources of web-based databases at the Franklin Pierce Intellectual Property Mall (http://www.ipmall.fplc.edu/ipcorner/bp98/boxell.htm). The British Library has also put together a good grouping of patent links (http://www.bl.uk/services/stb/etalmenu.html). Some of the other recommended websites include Delphion.com (http://www.delphion.com/) and VRN Patent Page (http://vagn.dk/patent/patentlaw.html).

Trademarks

The major agreement in this area is the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Trade Marks. Documents related to the Madrid Agreement can be found at the WIPO website (http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/) including Madrid Express, which updates the WIPO Gazette of International Marks, and Assembly documents.

Secondary source materials on trademarks include:

  • N. Morowitz ed. Trademarks Throughout the World 4th ed (Deerfield, Ill: CBC, 1987-current)
  • Worldwide Trademark Transfers (Deerfield, Ill: CBC, 1992-current)
  • Offner, E. Offner’s International Trademark Service 2d ed. (Washington, D.C.: Fieldston, 1981-current) looseleaf
  • Trademarks Throughout the World 4th ed. (A. Jacobs ed. New York: Trade Activities, 1989-current)looseleaf also published on Westlaw (TMWORLD)

In terms of periodicals and current awareness sources, the U.S. Trademark Association publishes a Bulletin (New York: U.S. Trademark Association) and the Trademark Reporter (New York: U.S. Trademark Association, 1911-current) on Lexis (TRDMRK;TMR). International Trademark Association (http://www.inta.org/) has a website with trademark information.

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market has a Trade Marks and Designs section (http://oami.eu.int/en/default.htm). This website links to EU trade mark legislation (http://oami.eu.int/en/aspects/default.htm). There are also Community Trade Mark Courts whose decisions are reproduced in European Trademark Reports (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1996-current).

Foreign Laws on Intellectual Property

Intellectual property has been a productive area for translation and publication. Your chance of finding an IP law in English translation is quite high: higher that the likelihood of finding other laws of another jurisdiction in translation. WIPO publishes a fair number of IP laws in translation.

  • Industrial property laws and treaties. (Geneva : WIPO, c1978 updated) looseleaf
  • Intellectual property laws and treaties. (Geneva : WIPO, 1998current) looseleaf
  • Copyright and neighboring rights laws and treaties (Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization 1987-current)

There is a WIPO project called Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA) (http://www.wipo.int/clea), which includes the full-text laws of a number of countries translated into English. The CLEA database also includes the texts of selected laws in French and Spanish.  Another feature of the CLEA database is the availability of bibliographic references to many more pieces of legislation not translated.  With the citation it would be possible to request the piece of legislation via Interlibrary Loan or retrieve it from an online legislative database.

One of the most comprehensive sources of full-text legislation is the database of national laws on copyright and neighboring rights in English from UNESCO (http://www.unesco.org/general/eng/legal/convent.html). UNESCO has a web site on conventions on cultural property (http://www.unesco.org/culture/legalprotection/index.html) and one on conventions and copyright (http://www.unesco.org/culture/copyright/html_eng/actions.htm). UNESCO also publishes a print collection of laws and treaties: Copyright laws and treaties of the world (Paris: UNESCO; Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs 1956 updated).

As will become clear below, there are a large number of national laws available via the Internet. Just a note on laws and translations of laws on the Internet: mostly these Internet copies of the laws are not official copies, which means they must be relied upon with caution. If they are from an official government website, there is a better chance the text is reliable. You must check to determine what each particular country deems to be official copies of its laws. As for the translations, these are even less likely to be authoritative, although again the versions on official government websites are more likely to be authoritative. It would be prudent to get an official copy of the vernacular of the law and compare it to your translated text.

There are other collections of IP law:

  • Copyright Laws and Treaties of the World (Washington, D.C.: BNA/UNESCO, 1956-current) looseleaf
  • Intellectual property laws of Europe (G. Metaxas- Maranghidis ed., Chichester [England]; New York: Wiley, 1995).
  • Intellectual Property Laws of East Asia (Gutterman and Brown eds., Hong Kong: Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 1997)
  • Intellectual property: Eastern Europe & Commonwealth of Independent States (D.L. Garrison ed., New York: Oceana, c1995-current)
  • Design Laws and Treaties of the World (Bureau of National Affairs 1960-current)
  • OAS's Foreign Trade Information System (http://www.sice.oas.org/int_prop/ipnale.asp)

There are also descriptions of intellectual property regimes in different countries:

  • International encyclopaedia of laws: Intellectual property (H. Vanhees ed. The Hague; Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1997-current)
  • The question of copyright : a summery of the copyright laws at present in force in the chief countries of the world (G.H. Putnam ed., Littleton, Colo. F.B. Rothman, 1996)
  • Major Provisions and Trademark Legislation in Selected Countries in the Form of Summary Tables (Geneva: WIPO, 1997)
  • Digest of Intellectual Property Laws of the World (Oceana 1975 supp. 1998)
  • Worldwide Trade Secrets Law / T. Maclaren (Clark Boardman Callaghan 1993-current)

As for the individual countries, here are those laws, regulations, government entities and national organizations that I have been able to locate. If you have any to add to this list please e-mail LLRX. Some foreign servers are very slow, so be patient.

Andorra

Laws

Argentina

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Australia

Laws

Regulations

Case Law

Government Entities

Other

Austria

Laws

You can update by searching the Austrian Bundesgsetzblatt (http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/plweb/info/help/searchbgbl.html) for the word "urheberrecht" (copyright) or "gebrauchsmuster" (design model) or "patent" (patent) in the "suchworte" field and entering the date of the last amendment of the copyright law after which you want to search. For example, some of the amendment to the patent law that result are from BGBl. I Nr. 175/1998 and from BGBl.Nr. 181/1996

Government Entities

Other

Belarus

Laws

Belgium

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Bolivia

Laws

Brazil

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Bulgaria

Government Entities

Canada

Laws

Regulations

Government Entities

Other

Chile

Laws

Columbia

Laws

Croatia

Laws

Government Entities

  • State Intellectual Property Office (http://jagor.srce.hr/patent/). There is a list of those bilateral and multilateral treaties to which Croatia is a party.

Cuba

Government Entities

Cyprus

Laws

Czech Republic

Laws

Government Entities

Denmark

Laws

Caselaw

Government Entities

Other

Ecuador

Laws

England

Laws

Regulations

  • Statutory Instruments, or the equivalent of regulations, are available on Lexis (ENGGEN:SI) and Westlaw (link to British statutes on Westlaw)
  • Can search the Statutory Instruments for the last few years (http://www.hmso.gov.uk/stat.htm) for the words "patents", "trade marks" and "copyright" with results. Search at bottom of the page.

Caselaw

Government Entities

Other

Finland

Laws

Government Entity

France

Laws

Caselaw

Government Entities

Other

Georgia

Government Entities

Germany

Laws

Government Entities

Greece

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Guatemala

Laws

Other

Hong Kong (see People's Republic of China)

Hungary

Laws

Government Entities

Iceland

Laws

Government Entities

India

Law

  • The government has posted a searchable database of laws (http://caselaw.delhi.nic.in/incodis/) and you may search for "copyright" which yields the Copyright Act of 1957, search for "patents" for Patent Act of 1970 ("patent" returns nothing), and "trade marks" yields the Trade Marks Act of 1940.

Indonesia

Laws

Other

Ireland

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Israel

Other

Italy

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Japan

Laws

Government Entities and Organizations

Other

Jordan

Laws

Government Entities 

Korea (See South Korea)

Litchtenstein

Law

Lithuania

Laws

Government Entities

Luxembourg

Laws

Government Entities

Macedonia

Laws

Government Entities

Malaysia

Laws

Caselaw

  • Malayan Law Journal (MALAY;MALLJ) and Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Cases (MALAY:SMBCAS) on Lexis includes cases on the IP laws of Malaysia.

Government Entities

Mexico

Laws

Government Entities

Netherlands

Laws

Government Entities

Other

New Zealand

Laws

Government Entities

Norway

Laws

Pakistan

Laws

Panama

Laws

Peru

Laws

Government Entities

People’s Republic of China

Laws

For Hong Kong go to the Bilingual Legal System (http://www.justice.gov.hk/Home.htm) and you will find a Trade Marks Ordinance Chap 43, a Copyright Ordinance Chap 528, and a Patent Ordinance Chap. 514.

For draft legislation (http://info.gov.hk/ipd/new_law.html)

Government Entities

Other

Philippines

Laws

Other

Poland

Government Entities

Portugal

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Romania

Laws

Government Entities

Russia

Laws

Singapore

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Slovak Republic

Laws

Slovenia

Laws

Government Entities

South Africa

Laws

Spain

Laws

Government Entities

Other

South Korea

Laws

Government Entities

Sweden

Laws

Government Entities

Switzerland

Laws

Government Entities

Thailand

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Taiwan

Laws

Government Entities

Other

Turkey

Laws

Government Entities

Ukraine

Government Entities

United Kingdom (see England)

United States

Laws

Regulations

Government Entities

Other

Uruguay

Laws

Venezuela

Laws

Vietnam

Laws

Other

  • Vietnam Law and Legal Forum on Westlaw (VIETNMLLF)
  • Intellectual property & technology transfer in Vietnam (Brahm, Laurence J. Quarry Bay, Hong Kong: Longman, c1994)
  • Trademark law in Indochina: practice and procedures in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos New York, N.Y.: International Trademark Association, 1994.